Iowa’s largest hospital used its entire week’s allotment of COVID-19 vaccines in a single day.
Wednesday was the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics’ first day of inoculating people over 65. Hospital CEO Suresh Gunasekaran says the quick rollout of 1,000 doses shows the Iowa City medical center is ready to scale up as vaccine supplies increase.
“Soon as we get the doses, we have the capability in this community to get that in people’s arms within a day or two,” Gunasekaran says. “Even if the number is 1,000 or 2,000 or 3,000, we really feel like we could do that in a single day.”
Now that the UK variant of the coronavirus has been identified in Iowa, he says there’s even more urgency to speed up vaccinations. The UIHC is offering appointments to those 65 and older through a random lottery and working with community groups to expand accessibility.
Gunasekaran says he understands the frustration of those waiting for a shot, but he says more supplies are becoming available. “There is reason for optimism as we move forward that we’ll be able to get more vaccine,” he says. “The reality is today that we don’t have as much vaccine as we have eligible Iowans. We know the importance of continuing our safety standards, the importance of social distancing.”
Walgreens and CVS report getting another 32-thousand doses of COVID-19 vaccines that are available for Iowans 65 or older. They’re being distributed to stores in 11 Iowa counties. Appointments can be made through the pharmacies’ websites. A New York Times report ranks Iowa third to last in the country for administering the vaccines per capita.
(By Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio)